Social Network Platform comparison - alternatives to Ning

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Original Message

From: Peter J. Bury, posted on 2010/05/13

Dear all

The km4dev coregroup is assessing whether or not to stay on Ning (issue came up due to Ning's wavering to pay or not to pay policy). I think we could benefit from a km4dev wide discussion on this.

One attempt to compare social networking facilities is here (you can also see it in the summary below).

I'll share some more resources after this one, Peter

Contributors

All replies in full are available in the discussion page. Contributions received with thanks from:

Peter J. Bury
Johannes Schunter
Gabriele Sani

Related Discussions

Summary

A table with a comparison between several collaboration platforms were shared, together with a few articles on Ning alternatives.

Comparison of collaboration platforms

File Sharing Storage Space Forums Groups Calendar/Events RSS Other notable features CIPA Downsides
Bigtent yes unknown yes yes yes unknown Facebook IntegrationHas a built-in money collection tool for group events and fund raisers.Has a built-in polling feature. 13 URL is not customizable
Grouply no 100mb noGrouply has a message board feature but it does not offer threaded discussions.  Each post is independent. no yes yes Looks a lot like Ning Administrator determines when they setup the group free version gives very little storageDoes not support threaded discussionsDoes not support Groups or file sharing.
Mixxt yes, but as it's own category.  Can't attach files to forum posts unknown yes yes yes yes Highly customizable.Simple interface.Has wiki feature 12 Templates are not as visually appealing as other networks.
Grou.ps yes, but as it's own category.  Can't attach files to forum posts 10GB but discussions are not threaded and it doesn't appear you can embed contentForum posts seem to rely on wiki code instead of html. yes yes yes Highly customizable.Many template choices.Easy to use interface.Looks and feels a lot like Ning.Has many features that Ning doesn't even offer such as a site search engine, map modules, wiki pages, a file download module, and games.Integrates with Google Gadgets. IDK still in beta, who knows if it will remain free, could suffer the same fate as Ning
SocialGo only for photos 1GB Forum posts are threaded and may be edited in html to include video or other rich contentForums are organized very nicely and posting to them is intuitive. yes yes yes Very intuitive and easy to use site both for admin and for users.Nice layout and organization of network pages/elements.Free accounts are ad supported but ads are subtle.This is a good viable alternative to Ning for low-impact networks where users do not need to swap and share files. 18 Without a premium account, network admin are somewhat limited in how much they can customize their network. 
Spruz yes unlimited Forum posts are threaded and may be complex. Lots of options for types of posts including polls, video, or text.Very nice WYSIWYG editor yes yes yes Almost identical to Ning in the features category. IDK On free accounts ads are intrusive and may be inappropriate for schools.
BlastGroups yessupports sharing files, audio, and video unknown yessupports threaded discussions but all posts in the forum are simple text only, no pictures an no html no no no BlastGroups is really more of a content sharing tool.  It generates a stream of videos, audio files, documents, and links that users contribute. 13 Might be a useful tool for classroom use but not suitable as a large social networking platform.No ability to modify layout.No template editing an no html support.
WackWall no unknown yes no yes no Simple interface IDK very limitingno layout or feature customization for admin
Conclusion

Grou.ps hands down wins this battle and is a serious contender that could rival Ning even if Ning kept it's free accounts.  Spruz and SocialGo are good alternatives for small groups that do not need to share files.  For discussion Spruz and SocialGo are probably the best alternatives in this group.  Mixxt was also a good alternative but the administrative interface is not as nice as Grou.ps nor were their templates very visually appealing.

Recommended Resources

On Ning alternatives